How to break down the barriers in a company and stamp out departmental (and geographic) silos?

How to break down the barriers in a company and stamp out departmental (and geographic) silos?

how break down barriers company
Posted by David Galiana, on Wednesday 1 January 2020, updated on Sunday 16 May 2021

“Break the silos of an organisation”, “work in project mode” or even “break down the barriers of departments”. Surely you have already heard these very trendy expressions in recent years. With the digital arrival, our society has evolved, bringing a change in our ways of consuming, but also in the way we work, which has changed the very organisation of companies.

Today, the traditional world of work where every team is compartmentalised tends to disappear in favour of global collaboration. What does this really mean? And how can you break down the barriers of your business?

Breaking down the barriers of a business: yes but why?

In fact, in a business that works in silos, every team works on their tasks and projects without worrying about their impact on other departments. There is no information or resource sharing, and no cross-communication, or in other words, the departments do not communicate or communicate minimally with each other. The hierarchical system is very present and management is pyramidal, that is to say that responsibility is taken away from employees and their independence and creativity is curbed.

This type of organisation usually ends with duplication of tasks, lost time and often financial losses. In short, it is an obsolete way of working that harms global performance of the company and is not adapted to the digital transformation that we are currently living.

Today, businesses who want to be more high performing and productive should completely rethink their work methods and encourage collaboration between departments. This is called operating in project mode.

This type of organisation has many advantages, such as :

  • the achievement of the overall objects of the company ;
  • better visibility and better communication between departments ;
  • a collaboration that is encouraged within the company ;
  • more flexibility and reactivity ;
  • lack of a hierarchy and more accountability for employees ;
  • circulation and sharing of information

If you want to stamp out departmental silos in your business too, follow this guide.

 5 tips for breaking down the barriers in your business

In practice, it is not easy to get out of a traditional hierarchical organisation. This involves changing the culture of the business as well as the work methods. Here’s how to do it.

1. Communicate a vision and common objectives

Generally, in organisations in silos, employees concentrate on their individual objectives and the objectives of their team, and they lose view of the global objectives of the business. Often, some departments even feel in competition with one another and rather than collaborating, they will intentionally retain information to put their ‘rivals’ in difficulty.

An attitude like this harms the success of projects and the success of the business. To avoid it, you should clearly communicate the common vision and long-term objectives of the company as well as the way in which each department should participate on this collective vision.

Thanks to this overview, each team and each employee will learn their place within the organisation, their contribution to reaching the objectives of the business as well as the place and role of the other employees and other departments.

2. Encourage collaboration between teams

To stamp out departmental silos, you need to encourage teams to work and interact together on the common objectives set beforehand.

For this, regularly organise joint meetings and discussion groups where every employee gets to know the members of other teams, their role and how they can work together towards achieving the objectives of the business.

The breaking down of barriers in a company is also physical and also includes a better organisation of the premises. The era where marketing is on the first floor, the IT service on the second and accounting on the third has been revolutionised. Reorganise offices by encouraging a collaborative environment where departments mix with each other to avoid all isolation and facilitate the spreading of information.

3. Create multi-skilled teams

To work efficiently and to succeed on all your projects, put in place multidisciplinary teams, which is to say one member from every department involved in the project (technical, marketing, sales, product, etc.), and do this from the start of the project.

In this way, you encourage collaboration and facilitate communication between each team. Being involved from the beginning of the project, employees from each department will make every effort in order for the project to be a success. They will therefore be less reluctant to share their resources and information.

4. Use collaborative tools

In the digital age, a large number of tools and applications exist today which encourage collaboration within teams and facilitate communication and the sharing of ideas and information. These tools are perfect for breaking organisational silos but also geographic as they allow collaborators to work easily together, wherever they are.

For example, the collaborative platform Wimi is an ideal tool. It allows you to organise working in teams effectively by centralising the information, improving communication via tools like instant messaging, audio and video calls with screen sharing, and by alerting you in real time to the progression of a project.

5. Resort to training

Finally, training can be an excellent way in succeeding to effectively and durably break down the barriers in your business. Start by teaching your employees to learn and to identify the negative impacts of silos on an organisation. Then, explain the benefits of operating in project mode and of collaboration between teams.

Train them to communicate better and to adopt behaviour that encourages collaboration, particularly with team building exercises.


Today, it is known that to work effectively on projects, the business can no longer operate with divided teams where every collaborator works without worrying about the repercussions on the other teams in the company. It’s over to you to stamp out organisational silos with these 5 tips.

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